Climate cases keep landing in state court. Why it matters

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Judges across the country have now determined that climate lawsuits against oil and gas companies belong in state courts, writes Jennifer Hijazi of E&E News.

But whether climate lawsuits constitute tort claims at all has been a major point of contention in and out of the courtroom.

Oil companies should not be targeted for doing lawful business, said American Tort Reform Association President Sherman “Tiger” Joyce.

“You’re talking about energy, you’re talking about companies in an industry … that is obviously national in scope,” he said. “To say that this is interstate commerce is an understatement.”

He argued that tort expansion — like what the climate litigants propose — creates liability after the fact that is especially unfair for an industry that is already heavily regulated.

“To hold someone responsible for something — whether it’s a criminal act or whether it’s civil liability — we believe that there should be notice in advance,” he said. “You should know what the rules of the road are.”

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